Tag: winter

5 Easy Ways To Stay Positive & Healthy

Veronica, Brandon, Coco on beach

During the Long Dark Winter…

If you feel like eating tons of comfort food and hibernating this time of year, I don’t blame you. But it’s so important to stay active and healthy this time of year and I’ve got some easy, fun tips to do it! 

It’s 5:30 p.m. It’s pitch black outside and freezing. All you feel like doing is plopping down on the couch and vegging out for a few hours. If that’s what you’re feeling, should you give in? After all, aren’t you supposed to listen to your body? And if your body is telling you that you should grab the cashmere comforter, a few of your favorite snacks, a glass of wine and the remote … well … what's wrong with that?

There’s certainly nothing wrong with chillaxing—from time to time. But if that’s how you’re gonna roll from late fall until early- or mid-spring when the weather finally warms up and the days are longer, that’s not going to be good for your mental or physical health. 

So next time you’re feeling the winter blues, follow these tips:

meditate

Stay Positive & Healthy This Winter Tip #1: Meditate In Bed

This may not come as a shock but it’s important to state: In general, people who meditate on a regular basis are happier, calmer, and better able to attract what they want in life. There’s lots of research to support this—at least the part about people who meditate being more positive and calmer. 

The problem with meditation is that for people who have never tried it, it seems intimidating. But learning anything new is challenging. Beyond that, though, another problem with meditation is that many people assume that you have to sit completely still in the lotus position like a Buddhist monk, with your legs twisted into a pretzel. But that’s not the case at all…

I recommend starting each day meditating before you get out of bed, lying flat on your back. So how do you meditate? It’s simple. Listen to a meditation app. Try a guided meditation, which will tell you exactly when to breathe in and breathe out. Or, if you’d rather just listen to soothing meditative music, with Tibetan singing bowls or other ethereal sonic blissed out sounds, there’s no shortage of YouTube videos or smartphone apps for that. 

Start each morning with a 10-minute meditation before you get out of bed. It will really set the stage for an awesome rest of your day. 

yoga pose

Tip #2: 5 Minute Yoga Routine

After you’re done with your meditation routine (and your potty routine), despite how tired you are and despite how cold it may be, force yourself to do a 5-minute yoga routine. 

If you live in an apartment without central heating, before you start your meditation practice in bed, turn on your space heater in the living room where you do yoga. Get the room nice and toasty. If you’re not sure which 5-minute yoga routine to do or how to do yoga at all, there’s a ton of intro yoga videos, many of them free. 

I recommend doing a flow that keeps your body moving, from cat/cow to downward/upward dog or sun salutations. After just 5 minutes of a continuous flow yoga practice, you’ll feel like a new person, totally energized, in good spirits and ready to take on the day’s challenges. Try my easy yoga pose routine to stress less, feel better.

healthy snacks

Tip #3: Seasonal Snacking

Let’s fast forward to the evening hours when there’s no kids around, all your work and errands are done and it’s tempting to get your Netflix on and snack away. This is the most challenging part of the day. Because even if you were successful at incorporating meditation and a mini yoga session or two (or other activity), succumbing to late-night snacking can sabotage all your healthy habits from earlier in the day. 

And just like meditation is associated with a more positive attitude, snacking is more associated with depression

So what can you do when it’s 9:00 at night and it’s time to watch a few episodes of your favorite show? Personally, I try to stop eating and drinking anything with calories by 8:00—unless I’m going out to dinner. Studies on the health impacts of late-night eating are conflicting. 

If you have type I diabetes, it may be essential to have a late-night snack to prevent dangerous blood-sugar drops. If you want to manage blood sugar levels and don’t have type I diabetes, however, eating late at night has been shown to contribute to metabolic diseases like obesity and type 2 diabetes. 

But other studies suggest that having a small meal before bed does not appear to be harmful—especially if you exercise on a regular basis. 

I realize that not everybody can resist the temptation to eat something. So if you are going to eat while watching TV on the couch late at night, eat a healthy, delicious mini-meal. 

My favorite healthy mini-meals are seasonal roasted veggies with some healthy fats and spices. 

    • Sweet potato with a tbsp of grass-fed butter and a dash of cinnamon
    • Brussel sprouts with avocado oil and sea salt and pepper
    • Carrots with hummus and 'Everything But the Bagel' spice (Trader Joe’s) or Zhatar
    • High-fiber toast (100% rye) with canned pumpkin and a dash of local raw honey
    • Almond flour crackers with cucumbers and lemon and pepper seasoning

I’m not going to demonize late-night snacking. The temptation this time of year is much too great. But do try your best to avoid all snacks with white flour and wheat flour (even 100% wheat). These common flours get metabolized too quickly. That means they turn into sugar and get stored by the liver as extra body fat. 

But the healthy mini-meal snacks above metabolize slowly and may even help to keep blood sugar levels within a normal, healthy range. 

read

Tip #4: Read

When’s the last time you read a good book? Many people go all day and all night staring at screens, hardly, if ever looking at printed pages, with the exception maybe of a restaurant menu. 

Reading actual books keeps your mind sharp. And when you get in bed, opening a book gets your mind and body ready for restful sleep. Sorry, reading on a tablet isn’t the same. In fact, studies show that the blue light emanating from tablets at night lowers sleep quality. 

“The use of commercially-available tablets may have consequences in terms of alertness, circadian physiology, and sleep,” the researchers concluded. Reading books has several health benefits, including keeping your mind sharp, reducing depressive symptoms, lowering blood pressure and heart rate. 

So crack open a book and get reading. If you fall asleep after reading just one page, so be it. Let reading be your best sleeping pill.

Tip #5: Eat Before You Party

When I’m invited to a party, I never know what kind of food will be served. Will it be pigs in a blanket, deli finger sandwiches and chips and dip? Most of the time, you get what you pay for, and if the food is free, it’s going to be low quality. So what I do is I have a little Organic Green Drink and then a little later, about an hour or two before the holiday party starts, I’ll eat a full healthy meal. That way, I won’t fill my belly with empty carbs and veggies that have likely been sprayed with pesticides. 

I’ll still indulge a little bit because I’m only human and when in Rome, ya know…

Hopefully, following these tips will keep you more positive and healthier this winter. 

Cheers,  Chef V

Cleansing In A Winter Wonderland

Veronica, Brandon, Coco on beach

It’s easy to do a cleanse in August, or RAWGUST, as Chef V calls it. When it’s warm, eating lots of light, raw foods like salad seems so satisfying and appropriate for the season. But in mid-winter, what are you supposed to do if you’re looking to give your digestive system and liver a fresh start? Chef V dishes out the tips for winter cleansing…

It will probably come to you as no surprise that most of my customers begin a CHEF V CLEANSE or 21 DAY DETOX in the summer. When it’s so hot you don’t even feel like eating and certainly not cranking up the oven to 425 degrees, it’s simple to go raw. 

But how can you give your digestive system a reboot and stay warm in the winter? This is the time of year when we crave starchy carbs like mashed potatoes, pasta and bread. 

For carnivores, the dilemma gets even more complicated. Freezing cold weather leads to cravings for red meat. But if your elimination is sluggish, eating a steak is like throwing more toilet paper into a backed-up toilet. 

The good news is that you can gently detox your digestive system with these smart winter cleansing hacks…

detox tea

Winter Detox Tip #1: Warm Yourself Up From The Inside Out

When you’re following a cleanse program like this one, it’s a good idea not to exercise too hard. That’s because you’re going to be consuming less calories than you ordinarily would. So it’s best to take it easy whether you’re just doing a 1 day cleanse or a 3-day or 5-day one. 

But that doesn’t mean you can’t crank up your internal thermostat without hardcore exercise. 

One of the easiest ways to quickly go from frozen to toasty warm without moving your body all that much is through kundalini breath of fire exercises. Just do a search for kundalini breath of fire for beginners on YouTube and you’ll come across several free videos. 

These breathing exercises involve short and powerful inhalations and exhalations and as a bonus, your abs get a workout. Practicing the breath of fire pattern for a few minutes will heat your body up and you might even feel tingly all over. 

You can also do a light yoga posture flow going from cat/cow to downward dog or full sun salutations for 5-10 minutes. 

Another simple tip for staying warm while doing a cleanse/detox in the winter is sipping hot beverages throughout the day. Duh, right? But not just any plain hot tea or water will do. To generate internal warmth, add a dash of fresh-squeezed lemon juice, cayenne pepper and ginger to herbal tea or water. 

And what to do about sipping on Organic GREEN DRINK? After all, on a CHEF V CLEANSE, you drink four of these refrigerated drinks on each day that you’re cleansing. If you’re lucky enough to have central heating in your home, maybe it’s not a problem to drink cold GREEN DRINK. 

But even if your cozy comfy home is set to 72 degrees, just knowing that it’s frigid outside might not put you in the mood for a GREEN DRINK straight from the refrigerator. 

So here’s what I do. In the morning after I wake up, one of the first things I do is pour myself a glass of green drink. I pour it in a mason jar and seal it with a lid to reduce oxidation. I let the jar of GREEN DRINK sit at room temperature for about an hour so it’s not so cold. 

Important side note: Make sure you put the bottle of GREEN DRINK you’re not using back in the fridge right away. Each GREEN DRINK is made fresh and because it’s raw to preserve all the phytonutrients, it has a shelf life of 7 days unlike dead, pasteurized commercial juice that never goes bad.

red beet hummus

Winter Detox Tip #2: We’ve Got The Beet

Beet juice is not a staple in a CHEF V CLEANSE. (You get 4 Green Drinks, 2 vegan protein shakes and 1 Detox Soup with your juice cleanse.) But I feature beets in many of my recipes including red beet hummus. For my customers who want a longer program to reset their metabolism, my 21 Day Detox features some of these recipes with beets. 

So why are beets one of the best winter cleansing foods? The answer is that because of the winter holidays, many people overindulge in added sugars. The excess sugar gets stored as body fat by the liver. If the liver is already overworked, this is bad news. Beets are a cleansing superhero because they protect the liver (this study shows). 

Sure, you can eat beets any time of year. You can add them to summer salads. But in winter, you can add them to a veggie soup.

Tip #3: Sip On Bone Broth

Now, with my guided cleanses, I recommend going meat-free for the duration of the 1, 3 or 5 day cleanse and the 21 Day Detox. But if you’re following all my other instructions to the “V” I think it’s perfectly ok to add some chicken bone broth that you can sip on during the day to stay warm. 

If you want to learn how to make your own chicken bone broth, check out my video recipe here

Tip #4: Drink Your Greens & Cook Your Greens

In order to support my digestive system, I make ORGANIC GREEN DRINK a part of my daily routine 365 days a year. Even when I travel, I take GREEN DRINKS with me. But in the winter, I also make sure to eat a ton of cooked leafy greens. I sautee the leafy greens in a cast iron skillet with avocado oil. To feel full, I’ll add a scoop or two of healthy grains like quinoa or wild rice. 

Again, the CHEF V CLEANSE includes 4 Green Drinks, 2 vegan Protein Shakes and 1 Detox Soup per day. But you don’t have to do an official Chef V cleanse to give your digestive system some cleaner fuel. 

(But if you do want the quickest transformation then follow a CHEF V CLEANSE…) 

Eat a few servings of cooked leafy or cruciferous greens every single day in the winter. The healthy fats in the avocado oil and the clean-burning carbs from the quinoa, brown rice or quinoa will keep your tummy satisfied and give your digestive system a break from all those Christmas cookies and eggnog. 

To your health, 

Chef V

read

Absolutely The Healthiest Foods To Eat In Winter

winter

Strolling through the supermarket and loading up your cart with fruits and veggies might seem healthy. But eating certain produce this time of year can actually cause an imbalance in your well-being. In this post, Chef V uses ancient wisdom from the Far East to determine the healthiest foods to eat in winter.

It’s really amazing if you think about it. We have access to an amazing abundance and variety of all kinds of foods throughout the year. Blueberries in winter? No problem, thanks to it being summertime in Chile this time of year. Because of the global supply chain—a little sluggish at the moment but we won’t get into that—and hydroponics (growing produce without soil), we have at our disposal all kinds of produce and grains, no matter the season. 

While we definitely should count our blessings and feel gratitude for this abundance, we shouldn’t absent-mindedly toss just any food into our shopping carts. This is true any time of year but at no other time is this food-shopping philosophy more important than in winter. 

The stress of holiday shopping, low-UV sunlight that provides insufficient vitamin D, over-eating at holiday parties and the cold weather that drives us indoors zaps our immune system. 

To have a healthy, balanced immune system, eat foods that are in season. That means no blueberries, apricots and other summertime fruits. I’ll share my list of the best foods to eat in winter in just a bit. But first, in addition to eating seasonally, there’s another principle of healthy eating this time of year I’d like to share with you…

kidney

Supporting Kidney Function In Winter

I’m a big fan of applying ancient medicinal wisdom into modern diet advice. For instance, according to the 5,000 year old system of traditional Chinese medicine, there’s one organ that’s vital for a balanced immune system in the winter. 

Not to be confused with the organs you learned about in science class, traditional Chinese medicine organs involve more than the physical organ. They also include physical energy points (meridians) and directly impact emotional and spiritual well-being. 

In ancient Chinese medicine, every organ is associated with a season. Winter is the season of the kidneys. Take care of your kidneys and your kidneys will take care of you. The kidneys in traditional Chinese medicine act as the body’s pilot light. If this light diminishes because of stress and poor diet, your vitality and health will suffer.

root vegetables

Best Foods In Winter To Support Kidney Health

Ok, enough with the Chinese medicine lecture. Let’s cut to the chase. What are the best foods to eat this time of year? Which foods are in season, are warming to the body and keep your kidneys working in balance? 

Roots and Tubers

To stay grounded this time of year, we need food that’s pulled from the ground:

  • Sweet potatoes
  • Squash
  • Yam
  • Green beans
  • Carrots
  • Beets
  • Turnips
  • Rutabaga
  • Parsnips
  • Brussel Sprouts
  • Mushrooms

Fruits

Are you a fruitarian? Could you live off of fruit all year long? If you want to have a balanced immune system, you’ll increase your chances of staying healthy by eating fruit that’s in season only in winter. The good news is there are a few on the list this time of year that are ripe for the picking: 

  • Apples
  • Pears
  • Pomegranates
  • Oranges
  • Grapefruit
  • Persimmons (eat in moderation; they’re high in fructose)
  • Clementines
  • Tangerines

grains

Grains and Legumes

Unless you’re on a super strict low-carb diet (keto), you don’t have to say no to grains. Eating a couple handfuls of a grain with a lean protein like wild salmon and healthy fats like avocado will help keep you full. 

Here’s my list of the best low-starch grains and legumes (which also get a bum rap in the low-carb world) to eat in winter:

  • Quinoa
  • Rye
  • Oats (purchase non-GMO because oats are one of the most heavily-sprayed crops)
  • Wild rice
  • Barley
  • Kidney beans (makes perfect sense to support kidney health)
  • Lentils
  • Black beans (soak them overnight in water to make them easier to digest)

spices

Herbs and Spices

When the weather is frightful outside, herbs and spices that “warm the blood” as the ancient Chinese philosophers would say, might not be able to replace a wood-burning fireplace. But sprinkling these on your food or in your tea may support the immune system and actually make you feel a tad bit warmer:

  • Ginger
  • Turmeric
  • Cumin
  • Cayenne pepper
  • Cinnamon
  • Garlic
  • Nutmeg
  • Clove
  • Cardamom
  • Garlic
  • Red chili pepper flakes

kale

Best Wintertime Veggies
And last but certainly not least, no wintertime food shopping run is complete without these veggies not already mentioned above:

  • Celery
  • Broccoli
  • Peas
  • Pumpkin
  • Onions
  • Leeks
  • These 7 dark leafy greens that you can conveniently drink and have delivered to your home almost anywhere in the USA.

These kidney-supporting foods are in prime season right now. Load up your cart with them and have a healthy winter!

Love, 

Chef V

Veronica in field

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